Days 109 + 110
Day 109: Mile 1066.2 | Falls Creek Campsite
I awoke at 4:45am to my alarm. No one else in the shelter was up so I quietly put on my red light and moved my pack and sleep gear outside. I packed up and ate a quick breakfast in the chilly morning air. Around 5:00am the rest of the shelter stirred and I went to wake Miles up in his tent. We rolled out of camp by 5:15am and Miles quickly got a lead on me.
We met up at Pen-Mar Park, just before the Mason-Dixon Line. Miles and I sat with Early Bird and looked out at the view while we drank some coffee while we waited for Soggy, the trail angel, to take us into town.
Soggy came up the trail with Nero, his dog, and met us at the Mason-Dixon Line. We officially entered the ‘North’ (although, in my mind the ‘North’ really begins in New Jersey... but that’s just me...?)! We loaded up our packs in his car and he took us to Timber’s, a restaurant that is actually near the trail. There we met up with Moss, Sniffles, and Ziggy! We had a big breakfast (thanks again Soggy!) of egg skillets. After breakfast we all piled into Soggy’s car. He brought Sniffles and Ziggy to the post office and then drove Miles and I to the nearest WalMart. He was taking Moss to catch a bus so that she could get off trail and work for a couple weeks.
Miles and I entered WalMart. It was crazy packed and I almost got hit by at least two shopping carts. Once we were inside WalMart I realized I had left my wallet in Soggy’s car! I was full of anxiety and I felt so bad. How could it have fallen out of my pocket?! I ended up having to use Miles’ card and pay him back. We tried to get what we needed as quickly as possible, hoping we’d have time to go to Wendy’s across the street and get lunch before Soggy returned. I found a blanket that weighed 10oz to use in place of my sleeping bag. I’d been slightly chilly for a couple of nights since I’d sent my bag home. Once we had everything we needed, we headed outside. A few locals asked us about our hike and we explained, as always, that yes we were thru-hikers and yes we are crazy.
We stood at the self checkout and unboxed all of our goods and packs them into our food bags. We got some stares. Soggy showed up just after we left the store and we put our packs back into his trunk. My wallet was still in the back seat, thank goodness!! He started driving us back to the trail and we realized he had forgotten to take us by the post office to get my care package from my mom. He turned around just before we got out of town and went back for the box. I ran inside and picked it up quickly. He took us back to the trail and by the time we got there I was so car sick I decided I wasn’t going far. I hadn’t spent that much time in a car in a while.
We went a mile in with my package still in its box and set up camp next to a stream. I sat eating cookies my mom had sent me, thinking I’d take a nap soon. I look over at Miles at one point after hearing him say, “I just can’t take it anymore!” He was using a pair of scissors he had bought at WalMart to cut his own hair. And badly, I might add. He has a nervous tick: when he’s stressed and anxious he pulls out his hair. It had been a very overwhelming day running around town on someone else’s schedule. As nice as it was to have the help of someone with a car, we decided it was just too stressful for us to be on someone else’s time table when we had certain things we needed to get done. I ran over and grabbed the scissors from him, but it was too late. He cut these huge swaths of hair, leaving bald stripes deep into his hair down to the scalp.
I sat him down on a log and started cutting. He looked ridiculous.
The cuts he made during his freak out were so deep that I had no choice but to cut it as short as possible. I basically gave him a buzz cut with scissors. It was so tedious. But he looked so ridiculous I couldn’t stop laughing.
Eventually, I finished cutting. As evenly as possible. He looked so weird. After we cleaned him up, I took my care package (thanks Mom!) back to my tent and went to bed. I took a nice long nap.
After my nap I made dinner of tofu, broccoli, and pasta in my frying pan and played chess with Miles.
Day 110: Mile 1080.6 | Rocky Mountain Shelters
Our packs were heavy with our resupply and we were struggling. We breaked often and made slow progress. We did lots of road crossings this day and the terrain was lackluster. Soggy had told us about a restaurant we would be passing that was just a mile off trail that offered free showers and camping. We aimed for that, bear South Mountain, PA.
On our way to the restaurant we stopped at this really beautiful shelter:
Where we ran into Water Boy again. He ended up hiking up to the next peak with us. After that we came to the road to go to the South Mountain ‘Hotel’ which actually wasn’t a hotel at all. We had to walk through the South Mountain Restoration Center, unsure what it was at the time. It was creepy. It seemed like. I one was there and there was an abandoned building across from a brand new looking one.
When we arrived at the ‘hotel’ we left our packs outside and entered the only unlocked door:
Into a smoking bar... yes, apparently, you can still smoke in designated smoking bars in PA. Yeah, and they call this the ‘North’. We got dinner in the bar anyway so that we could shower and camp, it’s expected that you eat at the restaurant or at lease get a beer to camp for ‘free’. We ate quickly with some locals, Kenny and Tammy. They told us, through the smoke of their Marlboro Reds, that the South Mountain Restoration Center is a Mental asylum. They said it as quietly as possible without making any eye contact. The town was ashamed of it, they said.
We finished dinner quickly and went outside to take our showers. The concrete walled shower had no ‘dressing area’ and the shower curtain whipped with the wind. Miles held it closed for me while I showered first. The water flashed between hot and cold. But I smelled awful and I needed that shower. When I was done (there were no towels) I used my washcloth sized paktowl to dry my whole body. It wasn’t great, I was still damp. I dressed quickly and went outside so Miles could shower. The water wouldn’t turn on as soon as he got in. I went inside to ask the bar keep, who had turned it on for us before, if he could fix it. On my way back out of the restaurant I saw these two guys getting into a white sedan. As I rounded the corner of the building back to where the shower was I heard loud ‘pop pop pop’ noises. It sounded like gun fire. I ducked behind the concrete shower, startled. Miles yelled to see if I was ok and I told him I was. “What was that?” We wondered. It didn’t sound good. Miles finished showering quickly and we packed up our stuff.
Back past the Restoration Center and onto the trail we went, as fast as possible.
What a weird couple of days. We made it to camp by 8:30pm. Water Boy was there and we told him about our weird encounter. We set up Miles’ tent and shared it, too tired and grumpy to deal with both tents. We went to sleep quickly, done with the day’s bizarreness.